Brossard, Sébastien de

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Brossard, Sébastien de

Brossard, Sébastien de French composer; b. Dompierre, Orne (baptized), Sept. 12, 1655; d. Meaux, Aug. 10, 1730. He studied theology at Caen (1670–76); was then in Paris (1678–87); in 1687 he went to Strasbourg; in 1689 became maître de chapelle at the Strasbourg Cathedral; in 1698 received a similar post at the Cathedral of Meaux; in 1709 he became canon there. His fame rests upon the authorship of what was erroneously regarded as the earliest dictionary of musical terms; it was in fact preceded by many publications: by the medieval compilation De musica antica et moderna (e. 1100), the last section of which is a vocabulary of musical terms (to be found in Lafage’s Essais de dipthérographie musicale, vol. I, pp. 404-7); by Joannes Tinctoris’s Terminorum musicae diffinitorium (c. 1475); and by Janowka’s Clavis ad thesaurum magnae artis musicae (1701); Brossard had access to none of these, however. The title of Brossard’s own vol. is Dictionnaire de musique, contenant une explication des termes grecs, latins, italiens et français les plus usités dans la musique, etc. (Paris, 1703; 2nd éd., 1705; there is an Amsterdam reprint, marked 6th éd., but this designation is erroneous; Eng. tr. by Grassineau, 1740). Brossard also wrote Lettre à M. Demotz sur sa nouvelle méthode d’écrire le plain-chant et la musique (1729); a considerable variety of church music, including Canticum Eucharisticum on the Peace of Ryswick (1697; new ed. by RX. Mathias); motets; etc. He brought out several vols, of Airs sérieux et à boire. His library of MSS was acquired by Louis XV in 1724, and formed the nucleus of the music collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale.


M. Brenet, S. d.B.(Paris, 1896).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire